Social media guidelines

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Brief flings: How social media is becoming more short-term

Social networks were never really meant to be long-winded. Twitter has and probably always will limit its users to the SMS-style 140 characters; Facebook cuts statuses off mid-paragraph and encourages you to ‘see more’ instead of displaying the whole thing and TL;DR (too long, didn’t read), a phrase originating well over a decade ago on Usenet forums is now wildly popular on Tumblr, Instagram and just about any other social network.

Nowadays however, things are more ephemeral than ever. Not only are social networks curt, but so are news websites and apps. Look no further than popular mobile apps like Snapchat and Jelly; on the former, communications last for a few seconds and vanish forever and the very format of the latter is based on brief queries and short communications between virtual strangers.

It’s not just apps and social media either. Websites like Upworthy and ViralNova are popular for their short, snack-sized listicles populated with vibrant images and simple explanations. Even more sober outlets post their more extensive articles with the hashtag #longreads often attached to discriminate them from the quick-fire journalism that has become the norm.

This is an important development for PR and marketing, because it means that keeping things brief is more important than it ever has been. A snappy pitch is a simple task for most PR pros, but a snappy pitch that will stick in a consumers mind long after they’ve clicked on one hundred other links isn’t at all.

 

What the new Facebook Pages mean for Public Relations

Come 30th March all Facebook pages will have to make the change whether they’re ready or not. Pages will adopt the Timeline design that users already but with added analytics. But it’s more than just a facelift.

There are a number of different types of post that you need to get your head round to be able to best exploit the Timeline. Pinned posts are for the most important pieces of news. They remain at the top of your news feed for up to seven days meaning that they will not fall lower down the page as you update it and also allows the conversation to develop over that time, instead of having to be restarted by having the same story posted again the next day. Posts can also be starred, which stretches them out the full width instead of just half of the timeline. Like pinned posts, it is done to make the post stand out, but will drop down the timeline with more posts. Milestone posts also allow for bigger pictures and more space to tell a story instead of just sharing information.

One of the most noticeable things about the new look will be the cover photos. Facebook has laid down strict rules on what is not allowed to be used in the cover photos, meaning that brands simply have to design a cool picture with the logo in and little else. Brands cannot have any prices of promotion of products, contact details or pleas to ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ their page. On the subject of promotion, however, brands can post offers for their products that can sent straight from your newsfeed to your inbox.

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It is now possible to send direct messages to the page instead of simply posting on their wall and, unlike Twitter, it doesn’t require the user to be following the page to be able to send them. It will be possible to block this, but that would only be recommended in extreme cases. Cutting off a communication link between the brand and the consumer will look weak and defensive and strengthen the reputation of those brands that do deal with their customers.

Now when you look at a brands page you will not only see what they are putting out, but also what other users are saying about them although they can choose to either moderate them or turn them off altogether. This will allow for the brand to choose what messages that customers will be able to see instead of just cutting them off completely.

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All in all there is a lot more to do than before. The amount of new information that there is to screen will mean that those that are able to dedicate more time to the pages will pull ahead of those that can’t. Essentially it becomes about who can offer the best level of customer service and deal with the new influx of messages and posts. Isn’t that all everybody wants?

For a full list of the new terms of Facebook Timeline check out allfacebook.com.

Footballers need social media training or social media policies creating now

On Sunday Liverpool FC played Manchester Utd in the FA Cup. Liverpool lost but I have to admit the performance was one of the best from them I have seen this season but that isn’t saying much. The fact that they played with 10 men for the majority of the game did bode well though. However, something that ruined the game was a penalty awarded to Man Utd for questionable contact on Dimitar Berbatov in the second minute. Whether it was a penalty or not is neither here nor there as it is now in the past but the Dutch striker Ryan Babel criticised the referee openly on his Twitter page and then posted a joke picture of the referee Howard Webb dressed in a Manchester Utd shirt.

Following this the Football Association has now decided to prosecute him for this and I think quite rightly too. I have discussed the issue of footballers using social media channels to vent their frustrations before. In fact, in that article I went through my top five social networking mistakes and incredibly one included Ryan Babel back then – so he obviously isn’t a quick leaner. Here they are in case you are interested:

  1. Darren Bent allegedly attacks Tottenham’s chairman as his transfer to Sunderland dragged on and is fined £80K.
  2. A professional footballer nicknamed “Motor Mouth” reveals he plans to leave his club Crystal Palace for Fulham on his Facebook page but manages to inform the site’s 2.7 million London network members.
  3. American Striker Altidore is fined by Hull City FC after revealing why his boss dropped him for the game with Portsmouth FC to all of his followers.
  4. Liverpool winger Ryan Babel enrages manager Rafeal Benitez by writing on his Twitter page two days ago: “Hey people, I got some disappointing news, I am not travelling to Stoke. The Boss left me out the squad. No explanation.”
  5. Thierry Henry apologises for “Hand Gate” the day after the match with Ireland.

I think the time has now come for either the PFA or the FA to draw up a set of guidelines for players as they don’t seem to understand that posting on social networking channels is going to get them into trouble. They are superstars in their own right and journalists/bloggers monitor these pages closely as soon as you right something contentious it is going to end up in the national papers as they are looking for stories all of the time. This needs to keep up with the rest of the world.

This month will be another interesting one as the transfer window is now open and I expect to see many more players criticising their clubs on social channels as they try to engineer their moves.

Do you think there should be official guidelines for footballers? OR do you believe clubs should just ban their players from doing it like Manchester Utd did a while back?